Safe Congregations: Limited Access Agreements
Our faith calls us to lift up the ideals of integrated ministry for people of all ages. Our covenant with each other includes creating safer environments for gathering. Therefore, the New England Region will attempt to create inclusive environments at their events for individuals who have a Limited Access Agreement by making specific accommodations when possible.
Please note that in some cases, accommodations may not be able to be made.
What Is a Limited Access Agreement?
The core response of the congregation to a convicted or accused sex offender is a LIMITED ACCESS AGREEMENT. This agreement invites the person with a history of sex offenses to participate in certain aspects of congregational life, setting clear boundaries including what the individual will not do. Typically a Limited Access Agreement will specify participation in adult worship services, coffee hour, committee meetings, adult education, all-adult social events, and well-supervised intergenerational events as acceptable. It asks the person to avoid all contact with children on congregation property or congregation-sponsored events. This includes not talking with children, volunteering or chaperoning children’s events, including children’s religious education classes, talks with children during worship, and children’s activities during intergenerational events. It generally requires the person to remain in the presence of an adult who knows their situation at all times when children are present, including in some cases, asking the person to suggest a group of people to act as companions at church events where children may be present. It denies the person access to keys to the building and asks them to avoid being in the building unsupervised when activities involving children are in session, such as nursery school or youth group. The sample Limited Access Agreement that can be modified based on the feedback of the committee and the individual circumstances of the offender.
Excerpt from Balancing Acts: Keeping Children Safe in Congregations by Rev. Debra Hafner